A millennium has passed since the catastrophic nuclear war named the "Seven Days of Fire," which destroyed nearly all life on Earth. Humanity now lives in a constant struggle against the treacherous jungle that has evolved in response to the destruction caused by mankind. Filled with poisonous spores and enormous insects, the jungle spreads rapidly across the Earth and threatens to swallow the remnants of the human race.
Away from the jungle exists a peaceful farming kingdom known as the "Valley of the Wind," whose placement by the sea frees it from the spread of the jungle's deadly toxins. The Valley's charismatic young princess, Nausicaä, finds her tranquil kingdom disturbed when an airship from the kingdom of Tolmekia crashes violently in the Valley. After Nausicaä and the citizens of the Valley find a sinister pulsating object in the wreckage, the Valley is suddenly invaded by the Tolmekian military, who intend to revive a dangerous weapon from the Seven Days of Fire. Now Nausicaä must fight to stop the Tolmekians from plunging the Earth into a cataclysm which humanity could never survive, while also protecting the Valley from the encroaching forces of the toxic jungle.
Okay, so this is my first review, and my second favorite anime. I'm a Miyazaki fanatic, so take that into account if you must.
BACKGROUND: The most important thing to know when watching this is that this anime is from 1984 (ironic, right?) and that this is Miyazaki Hayao's second time directing (the first being Lupin III The Castle of Cagliostro, arguably the best Lupin film ever created.) Miyazaki and his producer Suzuki Toshio first met up because Suzuki, the editor of the magazine Animage, wanted some comments from Miyazaki about Lupin and Miyazaki basically told him to stop bothering him. After a while, however,
Miyazaki began talking more with Suzuki and told him ideas that would eventually become two of his greatest stories; Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke (1997).
Now, I have heard two versions of what happened next. On the Nausicaa DVD bonus features it says that Miyazaki, who had intended to make an anime from the get go, was denied because he did not have a comic to back the feature up, and that the manga was created because of this. However, other sources such as the famous Nausicaa.net (Ghibli's #1 English Fansite), say that Miyazaki intended this to be a manga originally, and that the anime was almost forced upon him. I don't know which one is true, however I would note that Miyazaki's manga continued to run long after the movie was created. If his true intentions were a movie, why make the manga into something so much longer? (Note that the Nausicaa anime adapts the story until midway through the second volume of the manga. There are seven volumes in total. Viz Media makes an excellent English version.)
Either way, the Nausicaa film was Miyazaki's first story that he had written and directed. It should also be noted that after Nausicaa was made, Studio Ghibli was established from the staff who created Nausicaa.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was not an anime I expected to like. When I stared at the DVD case and the home screen of the DVD menu, I thought Nausicaa looked like a vulture and that this wouldn't be a fun anime at all, but, you can guess, I was very wrong. My dad and I started watching this kind of late and we didn't realize how long it was. Dad was tired and went to bed halfway through, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the screen.
STORY: The story was unlike anything I had ever seen before. We all know of post-apocalyptic stories set in the far future where man kind has almost been destroyed, but somehow this world was nothing like the other ones I had seen. Instead of mechas and advanced governments, there are giant insects, forests you can't breathe in, and kingdoms with both armored knights and airplanes. The setting is truly bizarre, but so interesting, you almost wish you were there. The theme Man vs. Nature is clearly distinguished in this movie whereas good vs. evil is almost shunned.
ART: I really respect the artwork done in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I am not going to compare this to modern day animation, because that's just not fair to the movie. This film was created without the help of a single computer, and it still looks this good. The action scenes are detailed enough to keep me satisfied. However, I can't give full points for art, as I laugh myself silly every time I watch the scene where everyone runs over to Nausicaa and hugs her. You see, the little girl wearing pink and red clothes, or strawberry shortcake as I like to call her, runs by about five times. XD Still, I give it a pass.
SOUND: Not much to say, I think that the seiyuu are wonderful in this. The musical score is done by one of my most favorite modern composers, Hisaishi Joe, and I really don't think that it feels eightys -ish at all. Sure we hear a few synths, but I feel it actually kind of works for the movie :) The insect music is really fitting. Although I do believe that this score is not as solid as I would have liked, something that Hisaishi gets better at throughout Ghibli's movies.
As for the Dub, I am not generally a fan of dubs, but this one is done very well. I especially enjoy Shia LaBeouf's voice as Asbel. The only thing I really resent is the pronunciation of Pejite. Peh-gee-teh, not kryptonite Pejite.
CHARACTERS: I mentioned before that my initial impression of Nausicaa felt very unpleasant, but this was the most incorrect judgement I had about the movie. Nausicaa is, in reality, a incredibly wonderful human being. She is benevolent and gentle, the scene where she first befriends Teto is one that I still hold my breath when watching. She is determined to protect what she deems important, but is level headed enough to asses situations thoroughly. However, she is not a saint. She is frightened and angered in the same way as everyone else. I think the best word to describe Nausicaa is human. I believe that Nausicaa herself does grow throughout the course of this movie. If you look at the scene earlier in the movie where she goes berserk at the Torumekian soldiers and compare that to the final scene with her and the Ohm, you can just tell.
Other than our peacemaker/heroine, the rest of the cast is excellent as well. Asbel, Yupa-sama, and Mito are an excellent supporting cast. Yupa-sama is one of the coolest swordsman I've seen, and he is one of the few who really understands how Nausicaa thinks as far as intellectually. Mito and Asbel are less like Nausicaa in nature, as they are prepared to blow up a few ships and kill enemies, but not without cause.
We also have what might be called the "bad guys," Kushana and Kurotowa. However, you might remember me saying earlier that the idea of good vs. evil is shunned in this movie. I stand by that statement because I have seen these characters. Kushana is very human, she has her dedication to her army and her country. Its unfortunate we don't see more of Kushana like we do in the manga, but that can't be helped. Kurotowa may be the funniest character on the set, his slyness truly makes me laugh. These characters show that even those who are branded as "evil" can never really be called that.
ENJOYMENT/OVERALL: Over all, it is a great treat to watch Miyazaki's first story unfold. Miyazaki Hayao, you've done a great job with this movie, even if you weren't satisfied :D It has become my second favorite anime movie.
Please rate as Helpful or Not Helpful, as either one will help me write better reviews in the future.
MANGA, ANIME: Nausicaa was originally a manga with story and art done by Hayao Miyazaki (Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away) that, ironically enough, was only created so that the movie could eventually be made, as Toshio Suzuki, the producer, couldn't get money for a film that wasn't based on a manga. It was serialized in Animage magazine from February of 1982 to March of 1994, and was licensed Stateside by Viz Media, and consists of a total of seven collected volumes.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was created before Studio Ghibli actually existed and distributed by
Toei, but is considered to be the first of its movies, and was directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was released theatrically in Japan on March 4th, 1984. It was first bought Stateside by New World Pictures in the 1980s as a horribly butchered version known as Warriors of the Wind, which caused Ghibli to add a no editing clause to all of its future licensing contracts. When Disney licensed the Ghibli movies, they rereleased the movie in its original uncut format and redid the dub track, coming to DVD on February 22nd, 2005.
STORY: A millenium after the "Seven Days of Fire" that destroyed the world as we knew it, forests of poisonous plants and fungi and giant bugs are spreading through the world, isolating and swallowing human settlements. Nausicaa is the humane princess of one of the few untouched human settlements known as the Valley of the Wind, known for its peaceful inhabitants. However, an airship that crashes in the Valley and its cargo will expose the Valley to the machinations of its larger, more powerful, warlike neighbors...
Nausicaa is considered to be Miyazaki's life's work in many circles of anime fans. And I can honestly believe that; the effort that went into the story in weaving together so many differing subplots into one coherent whole that merges at the story's end. There are, that I can remember off the top of my head, two political subplots, two involving the poisonous forests, two involving weapons to destroy the forest, and probably a few plot threads I'm missing somewhere in there.
The environmental themes can get a bit heavy handed at times, and the fairly black-and-white dichotomy of the characters seems a bit simplistic. Also, you can see Miyazaki archetypes developing in most of the characters; there's the kind, resourceful young heroine (Nausicaa), the older, mature woman who has lost her way but is redeemed in the end (Kushana), the plucky young male sidekick (Asbel), the older wise woman (Obaba) and man (Lord Yupa) mentor figures, and, unfortunately, they aren't characterized much beyond that.
ART: The Ghibli character design conventions are clearly being developed here; big hair, small noses, and a very specific eye style. However, the animation itself is still incredibly exquisite; the backgrounds, Ohmu herd scenes, and the jungle and its creatures are amazingly designed, and the animation sequences themselves are incredibly beautiful.
MUSIC: Joe Hisaishi did the work on the music for this, as he has on all of the Ghibli films since. However, this one is tinged with a little more of 80s influence; there are synthesizers that run rampant through the music, and while they're used to pretty decent effect and blend with the orchestral parts of the pieces, it dates the music.
SEIYUU: I haven't really watched the subbed version of this in quite some time, but, for the most part, from what I can remember, it was a pretty good job on the Japanese end of things, and I recognize some of the seiyuu from other productions (one was Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke, most notably).
VOICE ACTORS: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm beyond pleased at the English voicework for Nausicaa. Some of the names on the production include Patrick Stewart (Star Trek), Uma Thurman (Kill Bill), Shia LeBeouf (Transformers), Mark Hamill (Star Wars), and Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), and they all do an amazing job voicing their characters and not making them sound ridiculous or like their voicework doesn't fit the character.
DUB: Again, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have absolutely no criticism whatsoever for the dubwork on this. Translations are done accurately, there's no intentional flubbing of the original meaning, and it's fairly well done. Yes, some of the expository dialogue and the dialogue that states what they're doing as the character does it (there's a name for it, I'm sure of it) is kind of annoying, but, really, it could be far, far worse.
LENGTH: The movie starts to drag about an hour and a half in, but the creators recognize it and pick up the pace at that time. The overall pacing is slow, but builds towards the climax of the film.
OVERALL: A slower-paced film with an excellent interweaving of subplots into a coherent whole with slightly archetypal Miyazaki characters, beautiful art and animation, if beginning to show the Ghibli character design archetypes, wonderful if slightly dated music, solid seiyuu, and amazing voice acting and dub work in English. Definitely worth a watch.
Nausicaa came out in 1984 and was the 2nd movie ever directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was also one of only 2 Miyazaki movies that was based on one of his original manga. The other was "The Wind Rises" in 2013. Nausicaa is an unusual movie, so it often gets overlooked and it is probably the single most underrated Miyazaki movie in the US.
A large part of the problem was an absolutely BUTCHERED port of the movie called "Warriors of the Wind" released by Disney in the 1980s. Nausicaa was intended to teach morals to a younger audience, but was NOT purely a children's
movie in the way that Disney executives wanted it to be. 25 minutes of footage including all of the violent scenes were cut out. The anti-war theme was removed. The mutant insects representing nature were changed to be evil and the giant robot representing Nuclear warfare was changed to being presented as good! In effect, "Warriors of the Wind" preached the EXACT opposite message of what Miyazaki intended! A few of Disney's changes were at least understandable in the context of the 1980s and corporate marketing. Nausicaa could hardly be marketed to small children as a "Disney Princess" if she went into a berserker blood rage and brutally murders 4 soldiers with a God Damn medieval war hammer Robert Baratheon style! (this actually happens in the film!) Disney destroyed Nausicaa by trying to change it into purely a small children's film, which it was never intended to be! Fortunately, Nausicaa was FINALLY re-released in the West in its original form...in 2005!
Nausicaa takes place in a post apocalyptic world, several hundred years after a global war destroyed most of the planet's life in just 7 days. The majority of the planet is covered by toxic jungle and dominated by mutant insects. The majority of the planet's soil was so polluted by the war, that the only plants that adapted and survived were highly radioactive and toxic to humans. Although it later turns out that these future flora can be raised to be non-toxic if grown in some of the remaining clean soil. Nausicaa is the princess of the small Wind Valley civilization squeezed between 2 perpetually warring military juggernauts, much like the US and USSR. Nausicaa is one of very few humans left alive who still believes that nature hasn't turned its back on mankind and works to reconcile mankind with nature. She desires to learn how to live with the mutant insects and de-toxify the forest rather than try exterminate the insects and burn down all the forests to make way for more cities. Nausicaa unwillingly becomes involved in a massive war between the 2 neighboring superpowers and must stop a plot to resurrect one the giant, organic, WMDs that caused the apocalypse in the first place. Nausicaa must find a way to both end the war, and stop the insects from wiping out mankind, which is a pretty tall order for most princesses! I don't want to spoil too much, but the plot, adventure, world building, and allegories are absolutely spectacular for a young adult movie, especially factoring in the time in which this was written.
Themes, messages, and execution: 10/10
Nausicaa takes on many themes and messages for a young adult film. Nausicaa broke the 1980s mold of American "good guys" and "evil" Soviets and instead presented both military superpowers as deeply misguided, but not innately evil. In fact, even the film's villains are morally ambiguous and have sympathetic characteristics, which was completely outside the norm for most movies in the mid 1980s, ESPECIALLY movies aimed at young people. The movie is un-apologetically feminist, but not in a way that seems forced, preachy, or obnoxious. I don't think I need to explain that this wasn't normal in 1980s Japan where female characters were either getting constantly captured (Hi Yuria from Hokuto) raped, or both. Usually it was both. Nausicaa managed to have a strong environmentalist message without turning to crap like Captain Planet or fucking Birdemic. That is actually a lot harder than you might think! There are very few actually GOOD environmentalist movies. Most make the mistake to be simultaneously obnoxious and preachy, while at the same time blaming pollution on a few "bad guys" instead of mankind as a whole. This leads viewers to mistakenly think that they aren't contributing to the problem and don't need to do anything, unless they are a corporate scumbag dumping tons of toxic waste into the ocean for the lulz! Nausicaa also manages to teach a strongly pacifistic message during a time when nearly ALL popular movies were pro war like Rambo 2 and 3, Red Dawn, Commando, etc. WE are good and WE must exterminate THEM because THEY are BAD! That was the basic message of nearly every fucking American movie in the 1980s. Nausicaa not only bucked nearly every social trend of its time, but it delivered Miyazaki's personal values and opinions in a way that was nuanced and well done instead of propaganda beaten in with a meat tenderizer (see 1980s anti-drug commercials). If you are politically to the right, you MAY take a disliking to Nausicaa since it is probably the most leftwing film NOT directed by Sergei Eisenstein. However, it is an extremely well made film, so you SHOULD appreciate it no matter what your political opinions are. For example, I am not politically far right, but I think Triumph of the Will is on a purely technical level one of the best films ever made. I will even begrudgingly admit Gone With the Wind is a great film...although I like Triumph a lot more. Basically, don't listen to someone who says Nausicaa sucks due to its political leanings. That is bullshit!
The art and specifically the fluidity of the animation isn't quite on par with some of Ghibli's later works. It doesn't look nearly as pretty as Mononoke or Spirited Away. However, it looks AMAZING relative to most other anime of the 1980s. Only a few 1980s anime movies like Akira and arguably Ghost in the Shell really look significantly better than Nausicaa.
The Wind Village flute theme will get stuck in your head for months! I deduct 1 point for deadly ear worm status!
Nausicaa is an underrated masterpiece! The fact that it is rated on MAL below the likes of Free!, the 1990s version of Hunter X Hunter, and Code Geass, is in my opinion an absolute disgrace! Nausicaa is one of very few anime movies good enough for me to actually go out and buy. I REALLY don't own many anime, but I own a copy of Nausicaa. I basically can't praise this movie enough. If you haven't seen it yet, go out and do so. Also if you had the misfortune of having to see "Warriors of the Wind" PLEASE go and watch the original. It is a LOT better!
When I talk about Miyazaki, I usually speak about how he tends to just narrowly miss the mark of making an amazing film. Nausicaa is a perfect example of how Miyazaki narrowly misses the mark of creating a truly magnificent film. However, Nausicaa shows perfectly Miyazaki's attitudes towards living with nature instead of trying to exploit it.
Story: The story isn't interesting, well, the basic storyline isn't all that much to really care about. There are a bunch of Deus ex Machina (god from the machine) that just really, really bugged me. Nausicaa herself is a basic Miyazaki protagonist, she doesn't
understand why the evil technologically advanced people are doing what they're doing, but she knows that she has to stop them. But again, the magnificence of the story is brought out by how Miyazaki shows how technology can, and shouldn't, be used to defeat nature. He shows it incredibly well, however it's never shown in a subtle way, sometimes it feels really forced.
Art: Ghibli. Almost every character is a archetype. The same stupid beards and the same faces for every female and every male character. It gets REALLY boring. There are some interesting creatures, but they're nothing to really make this anime's art any more impressive.
Sound: I honestly didn't enjoy the music a lot of the time, especially now it feels incredibly boring and dated. You kind of get used to it, but it really ages this already old anime.
Character: I felt that all the characters in Nausicaa were stereotypes. Unlike in Mononoke, the characters in this anime felt one-sided and boring. I didn't believe that they stood for anything and they certainly never grew or changed. I found their interactions predictable and I found myself getting bored quite a lot of the time. But it was interesting to see the stock characters that Miyazaki has created. If you watch all of his films it's very interesting to see the same characters in all of his different films. Another thing that makes Nausicaa subpar to Mononoke or Spirited Away (Miyazaki's Masterpieces) is that there is a VERY clear distinction of good and evil. This was the greatest flaw for me, the fact that there was a good and evil really kind of bugged me because it really detracted from the man vs nature theme.
Enjoyment: I both like and dislike this anime. For me it reaffirms my belief that Miyazaki is not a perfect filmmaker. But I like how he grows, and Nausicaa is perfect for showing his growth as a director. I found myself bored for a lot of this anime, but I enjoyed certain scenes.
Many people I know claim that this anime is a "classic" but I'm not sure if I agree with them. It is certainly not an amazing anime, but it shows the attitudes of Miyazaki in the most straightforward way. However I do believe that it's something that people should watch.
Plenty of games are sitting on store shelves, download sites, and your personal game collection that have yet to receive the anime treatment. We're going to look at some of them and find out why they're just begging for anime adaptations!